Canada v Scotland: Vern Cotter expects tough Toronto test

Canada v Scotland: Vern Cotter expects a tough test against the hosts in Toronto on Saturday

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter Photo: Zegreg, via Wikimedia

Vern Cotter is expecting a tougher test as Scotland prepare to face Canada in their second of four summer internationals against four different nations.

The new Scotland head coach, who saw his squad secure a 24-6 win against the USA on Sunday morning, has made four changes with two enforced by injury.

We’ve had a little bit more time to work together, look at some new combinations and increase the cohesion of the team so it’s important we step up

Vern Cotter

“We know we have a good team against us that are very attack-minded,” Cotter said. “They carry a lot, they’ll run from their own half and they have very big ball carriers that get good support, which makes them a hard team to steal ball from when they start going forward.

“We’ve had a little bit more time to work together, look at some new combinations and increase the cohesion of the team so it’s important we step up.”

Saracens flanker Kelly Brown returns on the openside for Blair Cowan, who made his debut last week, but the first-choice captain under Scott Johnson’s time as interim head coach sees scrum-half Greig Laidlaw named captain for the match in Toronto.

With Canada boasting several players from the Pro12 and the Canada 7s team which performed well in the Glasgow round of the IRB Sevens World Series last month, Cotter has placed an importance on defence but wants his players to attack when they get the chance.

“We’re anticipating longer phases of play so we’ll have to stay disciplined, and we’ll have to keep our structure and our shape in defence,” he added.
“Heads up rugby is something we will be encouraging at all times, in attack and defence.

“It’s important that the players are always taking on information and using that to seek, create and exploit opportunities.”

Glasgow Warriors centre Peter Horne, who made two appearances on last summer’s quadrangular series in South Africa before an ACL injury, is set to make his first start for Scotland after joining up with the squad early to replace Saracens’ Duncan Taylor and Edinburgh’s Grant Gilchrist also gets a rare chance to prove himself after Jim Hamilton was also injured in Houston.

“Peter was due to fly out for the second part of the tour but, because of injury, we’re getting a look at him a week earlier than we thought we would,” Cotter said.

“He’s a specialist 12 and he gets an opportunity to slot straight in, having worked hard and asked a lot of questions since arriving.

“Grant came on after 35 minutes against USA and played very well. He’s a leader within the group through his communication and his performances and was a good example of someone who’s keen and wants to do well for the team. We’re very pleased to give him a start this week.”

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